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Cockroach Smear Marks: What Are They?

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    Cockroaches already tend to inspire a sense of disgust, and it’s pretty normal to recoil in horror when you find one running around your home. As if their long antennae and hard-shelled bodies aren’t creepy enough, they also leave behind smear marks that require cleaning up.

    Are Smears Cockroach Poop?

    As one might suspect, the smears are cockroach excrement. Cockroaches aren’t known for having the cleanest diet. They’ll feed on decaying matter, greasy foods, and anything they can gain access to.

    Roaches also prefer humid environments, and the combination of grease in their diet and exposure to excess moisture has the effect of liquifying their poop.

    You can consider those smears a rather unsavory trail of cockroach diarrhea. While finding these smears anywhere is upsetting, there are effective ways to clean them up and get rid of them for good.


    What Do Cockroach Smear Marks Indicate?

    In a pest-free building, you will never find cockroach smears. Finding them can give you a clue that there could be a significant cockroach problem in your home or commercial building.

    Although the number of smears can’t always tell you the full extent of an infestation, you can safely assume quite a few cockroaches are hanging around when you see many of their markings left behind.

    Discovering many streaks in an area could also help you to identify the primary nesting spots for an infestation. Focusing on these areas while spraying for bugs is an effective way to start eliminating roaches from your property.


    Where Can You Find Roach Smear Marks?

    You’ll find smears just about anywhere that the roaches hang out. They’re typically found on walls and other flat surfaces that the cockroaches run across. They may also be found in areas where roaches tend to nest.

    Look in the damp areas of your home, such as inside crawlspaces or underneath sinks, to see if there are signs of roach activity. Roaches might also nest near sewer lines or where there is a water leak in the attic. As a general rule, you’ll find more smear marks in areas where there are large congregations of roaches.

    Keep in mind that cockroaches are indiscriminate poopers. Since they don’t care where they leave droppings, they can also show up in a few unexpected places. Cockroach smears could appear on your bedding, furniture, or even food packages in your pantry.


    What Does a Cockroach Smear Mark Look Like?

    The smears look like black or brownish-red streaks that often occur in groups. They may also be different sizes depending on the type of cockroaches staying there. A huge palmetto bug will naturally leave larger smears than a smaller brown-banded cockroach.

    While they can sometimes look like rust or food stains from a distance, you can typically tell they came from cockroaches upon closer inspection. In areas with many smears, you might also detect a musty odor that is a distinctive cockroach scent.


    Can Cockroach Droppings Make You Sick?

    The life of a cockroach is not for the faint of heart. During an average day, roaches may run through decaying matter, dirt, and other materials that expose them to fungi, bacteria, and viruses.

    Naturally, what goes into a cockroach’s body must also come out, meaning their smears could be filled with germs. Roach droppings have been found to contain bacteria that can cause strep and staph infections. They also carry salmonella and other types of bacteria associated with food-borne illnesses.

    Some people are sensitive to cockroaches in general. Exposure to their fecal matter could aggravate your symptoms if you have a cockroach allergy. In severe cases, it could activate asthma and other respiratory ailments.

    If you must handle materials containing cockroach smears, you’ll need to use personal protection, such as gloves and a quality mask. If you have a known sensitivity to cockroaches or respiratory disease, it is best to leave the cleaning up to someone else.


    Will the Smears Attract Other Roaches?

    Do you remember that musty odor that can sometimes accompany the discovery of smears? That stench is closely related to pheromones that roaches excrete in their poop.

    Roaches have a special type of gut bacteria responsible for producing pheromones that the bugs use to communicate with each other.

    In one analysis of cockroach poop, 40 different chemicals were discovered that could all play a role in getting the roaches to form big congregations.

    Essentially, each of those smears could be a huge flashing beacon that lets other roaches know that your home or commercial building is prime real estate with a steady supply of food and safe places to nest.


    How Do You Clean Up After Cockroaches?

    Once you know what those smears represent, there’s no way you can just leave them there. Even if the smears occur in a remote part of your property, you don’t want them to send signals out for more roaches to come.

    You can start the clean-up process by ensuring you have a quality pair of cleaning gloves available. You’ll also need soapy water, a scrub brush, and disinfectant.

    Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it is time to get to work. Start by rinsing off the bulk of the roach poop using soap and water. Dish soap seems to work well for getting rid of greasy stains.

    Remember that the dried smears are sometimes hard to remove, so you might need to scrub with a brush.

    scrubbing off cockroach smears

    After you’ve removed all of the visible smears, give the area a chance to dry. Once the space dries, check to ensure you didn’t miss any spots. If you did, then repeat the process.

    Next, you’ll want to spray the whole area with a disinfectant. Most disinfectants must be allowed to sit on a surface for several minutes to kill bacteria and viruses. 

    Then, wipe the disinfectant off and give the area a final rinse with lukewarm water to ensure that all the cleaner and smears are gone.

    Keep in mind that you’ll want to consider the type of materials that you are cleaning. Surfaces that can’t get wet may need to be torn out and replaced to eliminate the stains.

    Although finding cockroach smears might be disturbing, you can try to view it as an opportunity to dig a little deeper to discover why they exist on your property.

    The best way to eliminate smears is to avoid having roaches pooping on your property in the first place.

    Focusing on cockroach control helps to keep their excrement away from you and your loved ones, and you’ll never have to worry about finding their smears near your favorite foods.


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